Moving from SPL to EPL


Moving from SPL to EPL

The Scottish Premier League is a division of football historically dominated by Celtic, followed by Rangers.

The twilight of some Premier League players careers has seen them move north of the border in order to prolong their careers in a top flight side. This choice is often taken, rather than drop down through their own English leagues.

Paul Gascoigne, Roy Keane, Neil Lennon, Tore Andre Flo, Andre Kanchelskis, Craig Burley, Chris Sutton & Jermaine Defoe all signed for either Rangers or Celtic towards the end of their careers, to varying degrees of success. The common factor was of course, that their best years were behind them. It is the lure of either team could attract household names nonetheless.

Deterioration of each player listed meant a lower standard was a requirement in order to perform at the top end of their new top division. The SPL offered a desirable & historical post to play out their football careers, and this in part, was the lure of the move.

The Old Firm Derby represents an outstanding spectacle that can create fierce competition and a combative nature not often seen in football. In certain instances, these games (which are watched by millions) can act as a shop window of sorts for the so called ‘higher standard’ move south to the Premier League. The undeniable riches that the Premier League offers is matched by the need to maximise their own abilities in order to succeed. The jump is huge, and often too much but for certain talented individuals.

It can be argued, and proven in most cases that this move south has worked in spectacular fashion a number of times. Recent years has seen the likes of Victor Wanyama & Virgil Van Dijk move to Southampton before attaining further moves to one of the fabled big 6.

Where analytical scouting as exploded in recent years, it can sometimes be difficult to ascertain to potential ceiling of players within the SPL given the moderate opposition. The most successful addition of recent times is without doubt VVD, with a move to the south coast a requirement before ‘super clubs’ would risk a move.

This idea of identifying talent from top tier leagues within Scotland, Belgium, Austria and even Holland can see smaller clubs sign with an intent to move said players on at profit. This financial strategy has seen many a team become a desirable stepping stone for players that will look for the next move before signing. The idea of huge premier league clubs risking to compete in the market for these players can cause disillusion within their own fan base, and inevitably cost them millions later down the road.

The RB branded group has seen this issue overcome with players moving between the two as the requirements change for each player. Profits are consistently incoming from admiring giants, and the cycle continues. The SPL in some part offers a route to the PL of success is undertaken during their stint in Scotland. A stuttering career can be reignited with the correct move, which can be seen in the likes of Ryan Kent and Moussa Dembele. Both players were unspectacular in the English leagues, however a move north saw a surge in chances and then form, which again attracts that desired attention.

In the current season where Steven Gerrard has excelled, we have seen Celtic fall from grace after an extended spell of superiority. Smart transfers & a clear growth in Gerrard’s tactical awareness has seen both domestic and European form prosper.

The name carries weight, but the on going growth of Steven Gerrard the manger may well see that migration to his homeland sooner rather than later.

Regardless of levels or assumptions about the SPL, there can be a routed pathway to where both players and managers can evolve and even regenerate, in the case of Brendan Rodgers this is certainly the case. The SPL is also a very good stomping ground for top pros not willing to hang up their boots just yet, and both moves up or down show a tremendous chance for football men of all ages to to enhance their opportunities.

Long may this continue.

Steven Smith


  1. This is one of the poorest informed articles I have ever read. Half of the players you mentioned moving North when ‘their best years were behind them’ were in the peak of their career when they moved north. Chris Sutton, Neil Lennon, Gascoigne and Flo we’re all in mid 20s when they moved to the Old Firm.

    At this time before TV/ Oil money came to England these players came because they could play in Europe without taking a paycut. The Old Firm could compete financially with most Premiership clubs at this point.

    Idiotic article. Can hardly believe I wasted my time responding. Arrogance of the Premiership knows no limits.

  2. Keane & Defoe aside, the majority of those named were 26 or 27 when they joined the Old Firm…hardly twilight of career!!

  3. Maybe Neil Lennon aside, their best years were absolutely behind them.

    Age is irrelevant, yet still worth noting that longevity of players back then would have seen that period as the back end of their career anyway.

    Injuries, form, lack of playing time meant the moves suited & were very good moves for their careers once their prime years were done.

    Michael Owen’s best years were behind him in his mid 20’s for instance.

    I’m a fan of the SPL by the way.


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